The Week Ahead

A quick look at what we can expect from the week ahead.

The stock market closed with gains for a sixth consecutive week -- S&P +1.5%, Dow +0.6%, Nasdaq Comp +1.2%, Russell 2000 +2.4%. The Financial sector led the way once again (+4.1%), with Goldman Sachs (GS), JP Morgan (JPM) and Citigroup (C) all reporting moderately better-than-expected first quarter results. In all, seven of the ten sectors that make up the S&P 500 showed gains.

Financial companies are the best performers in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index this quarter, a ranking that has eluded them for more than a decade and a half. The industry hasn’t finished in the top spot among the S&P 500’s 10 main groups since the third quarter of 1993, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Every other group has been first at least one quarter in this decade.

Earnings season will pick up even more this week, with dozens of companies reporting each day, including Bank of America (BAC) and IBM (IBM) on Monday (4/20) and Apple (AAPL), Boeing (BA) and Morgan Stanley (MS) on Wednesday (4/22). It be a much slower week for economic data, with the exception of Existing Home Sales on Thursday (4/23) and Durable Goods Orders on Friday (4/24). The last day of the week will also be important as the preliminary assumptions from the banking industry stress tests are expected to be released. The Federal Reserve, OCC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of Thrift Supervision are using the tests to determine whether the 19 have enough capital to cover losses over the next two years should the economic downturn worsen.